Throw me Thursday: Envy

Last night, I was on the roof with bats overhead skreeking metal on metal past the trees, past the trellis, past the gutters full of leaves. My feet trailed over the side bouncing against dented steel siding. If I were to fall, I would break, but I wouldn’t die. There are later years to come.

Lives are shaped around many things–learning piano, studying physics, uprooting the jackhammer taproot of JFK’s assassination–I choose envy.

Envy is invaluable to the course of my life. I have envied friends from good families most of all.

Although I write from the envy of story, mother from the envy of a happy home, love from the envy of compassion, I have never manipulated another person’s trajectory from spite. Ignorance, perhaps. Selfishness, certainly.

This is the honest bone: Jealously comes from a desire for acceptance.

People do stupid, stupid things with the hope they will be accepted. Cliques can be dangerous and cruel on the outside, but like a hot crusty bun, so warm and secure in the middle.

My first clique whispered and taunted as a matter of course, I swore I would break from them given the chance. In middle school, friendships opened up. I moved to sharkier waters. Then high school. That was something.

I struggle always with the idea of acceptance while taking communion with envy.

But I’m more okay these days. Remember that saying about having one good friend instead of three hundred not good ones? That’s pretty cool. And there’s something about doing what you love instead of trying to be something you’re not, or don’t sell out, or be true to yourself, or dance naked in the dark.

I’ve been around some pretty bad people. The worst kind of people. These are soft, cuddly puppy dogs with floppy ears, droopy tails, pouty sad-dog eyes and rabies. They hurt. They bite. They smile when they do it. But not enough of us trust ourselves to leave well enough alone.

My daughters like dogs, especially the youngest; she wants a puppy and she wants one bad. We have to teach her not to run up to a dog and decide to pet it, but instead to ask, “May I pet your dog?” We have to teach her to be safe.

Everyone has a voice trying to keep them safe, but whoa! Boring! No danger. And just look at that cute little puppy dog.

Don’t do it. Or, at least, ask if you can pet it before you offer it your hand.

Today’s Throw me Thursday suggestion came from Karen Sosnoski on the Penny Jar Facebook page. Karen said, “Describe an action you’ve taken out of envy–its origins and consequences.” Karen also wins a signed copy of Thunder and Lightening by Natalie Goldberg. Congratulations, Karen!

Thank you to everyone offering suggestions for Throw me Thursday. You’ve introduced me to so many ways of thinking.

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About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
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8 Responses to Throw me Thursday: Envy

  1. Christine says:

    Very thoughtful post. When I was growing up, I thought other families were perfect. Mine was not. As I got older, I realized even the beautiful families with their beautiful bodies and beautiful homes had their troubles, too. The more I came to know other families as an adult, the more I realized that no family is perfect. We all have our challenges. Some are just more visible–like poverty–than others–like depression.

    My son Peter and his girlfriend Kasey have been targeted by a young woman Peter had dated. C. has managed to turn most of the friends Peter made from the fall play cast against him. Among other things, C. has told people that Peter is gay. I wouldn’t care if he was, but the hicky my sister noticed on Peter’s neck certainly points to the fact that he has a girlfriend. It’s clear that C. is acting out of jealousy. What’s also clear is that the students who have turned against Peter are not capable of independent thought.

    Peter and Kasey’s stories have reminded me how awful the cliques of high school can be. I managed to avoid the cliques and the pettiness but only by having no social life. High school was a very lonely time for me. I think Middle School was the worst. I wouldn’t want to go back to Middle School for anything.

    At 47 I still sometimes think the young people in coffee shops are still so much cooler than I ever was or ever will be. And then I stop to think that I am old enough to be the barista’s mother! I may not feel any more cool, but I do feel secure in the knowledge that I’ve lived long enough to have gained some wisdom from hard experience. My body may be lumpy–so lumpy that Nick could knead my stomach like bread dough after Peter was born–but I wouldn’t trade the experience of giving birth and nursing two kids for the barista’s body sans stretch marks. If we can reject our culture’s fascination with youth, to a certain extent with age comes peace…and less envy.

    I think your writing is getting stronger, Victoria. Keep writing! You are a bird with a song to sing.

    • pennyjars says:

      There are two kinds of people in the world…this time they are those who feel the high school years were the “glory days” and those who realize life gets better. And even though there are these two kinds of people, I believe the majority of us fit in the latter category. I’m sorry to hear about Peter’s unfortunate circumstance with his wicked X, but I’m sure he has learned a lot from the strength of his mother. Teenagers play a lot of games, don’t they? I’ve heard that our brains aren’t fully formed until our early 20’s.

      I’ve also been a barista behind the counter working with other adorable baristas and we/they/all have the same uncoolness as every one else, some just dress a little nicer.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Christine!

  2. kario says:

    It’s the human condition: comparison. We choose to measure ourselves against what we see of others, not knowing that all we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg and it is what is beneath the surface that could possibly destroy us. Or redeem us.

    Thanks for this. As always, your words ignite a fire in my brain and my heart.

    • pennyjars says:

      So true, Kari. We have a hard enough time trying to understand ourselves, yet so easily make generalizations about the people surrounding us. We can’t ever know until they let us in.

  3. Like this line “Cliques can be dangerous and cruel on the outside, but like a hot crusty bun, so warm and secure in the middle.” Creative use of bread in a sentence/metaphor – also we love bread and now we are totally hungry. We truly believe that having a few good friends is better than having tons of friends.

  4. Brynne says:

    Rode that like a half puffed cloud, whizzing along with a great big smile on my face. Thank you! yay!

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